MINNIE MACARONS: A FUN PROJECT WITH A HAPPY ENDING

Flash-back from the past, one of my favorite macaron projects!

Bewitching Kitchen

It all started with a very innocent email from my daughter-in-law. Inside a simple phrase and a single picture… The phrase: Something for you to try… The picture: a gorgeous Minnie Macaron sold at Disney. Miss G, our grand-daughter is crazy about all things Minnie. Basically, the universe conspired to make me  bake a batch.

MINNIE MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the shells:
198 g powdered sugar
113 g almond meal
113 g egg whites at room temperature
a pinch of cream of tartar
100 g granulated sugar
Pink Gel color from AmeriColor
2 drops vanilla extract

for the filling:

280 g strawberries, stems removed
140 g sugar
1 lemon, juiced
250 g white chocolate, chopped fine
1/3 cup heavy cream (about 80g)
1 tablespoon butter

to decorate:
pink bows (melted Candy Melts with a drop of pink gel color)
gold and pink sparkling sugar

Make the filling:  Prepare fresh strawberry…

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BRAZILIAN PAO DE QUEIJO: Love at first bite!

Brazilian cooking at its best, in a quick, easy and super tasty recipe!

Bewitching Kitchen

cheesebread1

If you happen to know any Brazilians leaving abroad, ask them to name the five foods that they miss the most. I’m willing to bet that “pao de queijo” (little cheese bread) makes the list. Some might even shed a tear or two thinking about it.

Originally from the beautiful state of Minas Gerais, they are made with a farmer’s type cheese, quite unique (Minas’ cheese, read about it here).   Brazilian cheese bread  is so popular that nowadays you can buy it in stores all over the country called ‘Casa do Pao de Queijo” (Home of the Cheese Bread),  or as a dry mix, in colorful bags available at most grocery stores. I’ve lost track of how many such bags we’ve stuffed in our luggage coming back from annual trips to visit family and friends.

Last year I found a recipe for pao de…

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SALMON TACOS

From years back, a delicious version of tacos for you!

Bewitching Kitchen

I’ve always twisted my nose at seafood tacos, considering them an abnormality of the gastronomic world.  But,  life has its own way of teaching important lessons and during our stay in Los Angeles, we sampled some fish tacos that made me reconsider my opinions. What can I say? I loved them, as well as the particularly incredible array of tasty salsas that place has to offer.

Since we came back, I wanted to make some type of fish tacos at home, and this recipe that I adapted from Food and Wine magazine was a perfect starting point.
CHIPOTLE-RUBBED SALMON TACOS
(adapted from Food and Wine)

2 tablespoons yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
2 teaspoons sugar
1 pound skinless wild Alaskan salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 corn tortillas

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IN MY KITCHEN: JULY 2019 (and giveaway winner!)


It is time to invite you all for a walk around our kitchen. In My Kitchen posts started many years ago with Celia and is now hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings.  This version is going to feel a bit different. It will be shorter, include a few gifts, some baked items, and of course the pups. It turns out that we are facing a very big professional commitment, and I have no choice but to considerably reduce my blogging schedule.  Life should go back to normal in September. Until then, I will take the opportunity to re-blog old posts that I am particularly fond of. After 10 years of regular blogging, there’s more than enough material to dig from. If at all possible, I will come up with a new post here and there.

Starting with gifts….

From our friend Cindy, this MAGNIFICENT serving dish that I adore… It is perfect, gorgeous, and makes me smile every time I see it!  Thank you, Cindy!


From the pups for Mother’s Day, these beautiful plates, that go very well with an old plate from Anthropologie we got years ago in Los Angeles.  Thanks, boys!

From Phil, a coffee cup from our favorite pottery artist, Mary Rose Young . Another item that makes me smile every time I see it. Braces be darned.

From our next door neighbors, flowers from their backyard… Aren’t they amazing?

In our kitchen….

A sourdough bread dressed up for party….

Strawberry sorbet made with just a few simple ingredients…

A caramel sauce that is a ticket to Nirvana…

Pain au chocolat with laminated dough, “comme il faut”…

And now, let’s see what the pups have been up to…

Makes me think of Ella Fitzgerald’s Summertime… and the livin’ is easy…. (dated myself big time here, haven’t I?).  That’s the vibe around our neck of the woods…

But let’s keep in mind that Osky has a very unique sense of comfort. We had some work done in the backyard, and well…  he chose to rest his bones in between a rock and a hard place. Literally.

Although once inside the house, he is partial to a comfy bed or maybe four of them….

Or a comfy couch… When their humans are not paying attention they might arrive in the living room to this peaceful scene….

Yeah, the couch is a tempting place indeed….


And when Oscar manages to get to his favorite spot, he will defend it fiercely (don’t worry, he got a “bad, bad boy” to correct his behavior). But aren’t those teeth something fierce? He is definitely the alpha-dog…

He might be the alpha-dog, but WE are Mom’s riding buddies…

And we are also the valiant guardians of the castle!


Barking our heads off in 5… 4… 3… 2….
(as the USPS truck parks by the driveway).

This picture explains a sudden increase on my gray hair. I had given Bucky Boy a thorough bath about 40 minutes earlier. Enough said.

And since we are on the subject of gray hair, there’s more reasons for it, contributed by BogeyQT™. He insists on stealing paper from the trash can, ripping it, and placing pieces in his usual design always on the rug by the front door. It is a perverse canine ritual of sorts. Gray hair. I tell ya.

Is he worried?

Not really… He knows we adore him in all his crazy glory…  I even baked a cake to celebrate his spots (recipe will be on the blog at some point, I promise).

Eggs – $2.99
Whipping Cream – $ 4.89  
Matching Dog to Cake to Necklace?  PRICELESS!

 

Before I leave you…
(DRUM ROLL)
the winner of the 10th anniversary giveaway is…
STEVEN!!!!   

I will be back on my regular twice-per-week schedule of blogging in September, until then will keep the blog going as best as I can.

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen – July 2018

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2017

THREE YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Falafel and a Bonus Recipe

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chocolate Toffee Banana Bread

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2014

SIX YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

NINE YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls

TEN YEARS AGO: Chicken Breasts, Coffee, and Serendipity

MARSHMALLOW MACARONS

I wanted the first post in my second decade of blogging to be special. Macarons have a permanent spot in my heart. My fascination with these cookies made me persist after many failures, but what ultimately led me to conquer them was getting the perfect instructor to virtually hold my hand and show me the tricks to master these finicky creatures. Colette Christian is her name. Her class on Bluprint (former Craftsy) will turn ANY person into a confident macaron baker. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may notice that her recipe is my go-to. I sometimes venture into Italian and Swiss territory just for fun, but if I have a very important batch to make I don’t blink, Colette’s tried and true it is.  Her instructions are flawless, and if you have questions she always answers them. The inspiration for the flavor and looks of this batch came from Ettore Cioccia, an Italian patissier who works in Spain. I follow his beautiful productions closely online.

MARSHMALLOW MACARONS
(adapted from Colette Christian’s Craftsy version)

for the shells:
198 g powdered sugar
113 g almond meal
113 g egg whites at room temperature
a pinch of cream of tartar
100 g granulated sugar
caramel food gel from Chefmaster
1/8 tsp vanilla extract

for the filling:

90g egg whites  (from about 3 eggs)
130g sugar (superfine if available)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

to decorate:
4 ounces (113 g)  70% chocolate
1 + 1/2 tsp coconut oil
white non-pareils sprinkles

Line 2 or 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered sugar and almond meal   in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 15 seconds. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and pinch of cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on medium speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. The whites should not appear liquid. The foam will be light and should not have any structure.

Slowly rain in the granulated sugar, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to medium-high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme. Add the gel color and the vanilla. Staying at medium-high speed, whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm.

Switch to paddle attachment. Add half the almond meal mixture, turn the mixer on low and mix for about 3 seconds. Stop and add the rest of the almond mixture, turn the mixer on low, and process for about 5 more seconds. It should still be reasonably thick, but the grains of almond should be more or less disappearing in the batter.  Remove the bowl from the mixer, and finish the macaronage by hand.  Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with one of the tips listed above. Pipe on the prepared baking sheets.

Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter. Then fist bump each end of the sheet’s underside twice. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. Ina dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 300 F. Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide, then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. The macarons should release without sticking. Check one or two. If they stick, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

Decorate half the shells with chocolate. Place chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Melt gently, mixing well. Dip half of the shells into the chocolate, leave to almost set. Add the white sprinkles when the chocolate is still a bit sticky to the touch. Reserve.

Make the filling: Fill a wide pot with a couple of inches of water. Place over high heat until almost boiling, then adjust temperature to maintain a gentle simmer. Combine egg whites, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set over steaming water, stirring and scraping constantly with a flexible spatula, until egg whites reach 175°F. It should take less than 10 minutes. Transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip at high speed until meringue is glossy and beginning to ball up inside the whisk, about 5 minutes.  Place the mixture in a piping bag fitted with a closed start tip. Pipe on the shells that are not decorated with chocolate.  Burn the surface with a torch, and immediately close the macaron with a decorated shell.  Press gently so that the burned design shows through the edge.

 Store in the fridge for 24 hours for perfect texture.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These macs were a ton of fun to make…  I wasn’t sure how the Swiss  meringue would behave as I torched it, but the whole thing worked flawlessly. Remember that I cooked the egg whites to a slightly higher temperature than most recipes call for, resulting in a more stable meringue. I piped and torched four at a time.  More than that could be a bit tricky. The chocolate shell was still pretty nice after 2 days in the fridge.  You could use tempered chocolate or if you truly want to simplify, candy melts work too. However, real chocolate tastes a lot better and in this case there’s quite a bit of it on the shell. Just make sure to coat the shells carefully so that no chocolate drips to the side.

Although, I doubt anyone would mind a little chocolate insinuating its presence down the shell… Would you?

 

About Chef Colette Christian

Chef Christian not only teaches SIX classes at Bluprint (Macarons, Miniature French Desserts, Croissants, Pain au Chocolat, Danish and other goodies), she also published a macaron cookbook that goes way beyond the basics to show amazing decorating techniques and cool things to bake using macarons as the basic method. To order your copy click here.  To visit her blog click  here.

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Fujisan Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Air-Fried Tomatoes with Hazelnut Pesto & Halloumi Cheese

THREE YEARS AGO: Red Velvet Layered Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: Lemon-Lavender Bars

FIVE YEARS AGO: Quinoa Fried Rice

SIX YEARS AGO: Carrot Flan with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

SEVEN YEARS AGO: The Secret Recipe Club: Granola Bars

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini

NINE YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto

TEN YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes

 

 

 

THE BEWITCHING KITCHEN TURNS 10! (AND A GIVEAWAY)

Ten years. I have a hard time even finding what to say. It is true that I tend to stick with routines, but I’m a bit surprised not only that I’ve reached the 10 year mark, but that I still love food blogging. More now than ever, actually. My interest in baking has a lot to do with it, obviously, but it goes beyond that. I like the feeling of having formed a community of readers, many of them food bloggers also, who always cheer me up with comments, feedback and inspiration. Ten years. More than 1,200 posts. It blows my little mind. To celebrate the occasion, a cake is obviously needed. It had to be special. I chose a cake I’ve been in love with for my whole life, but felt a bit intimidated until now to make it from scratch. Gateau Saint-Honore, a true classic in French patisserie. Light it is not, but festive? Festive is its middle name.

GATEAU SAINT-HONORE
(from Helen Fletcher’s Pastries like a Pro)

Lightened Pastry Cream
2 teaspoon gelatin
1 + 1/2 tablespoons cold water
2 + 2/3 cup milk, hot
8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar (200 grams)
6 tablespoons flour (60 grams)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream

Soften the gelatin in the water and set aside. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a non-reactive saucepan.  Whisk in the flour.  Add the milk slowly, whisking well and scraping the corners of pan with a rubber spatula to make sure all of the egg yolk mixture is incorporated.

Place over medium heat and, stirring constantly, bring to a boil.  Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla.  Tear the gelatin into small pieces and stir it into the hot liquid (there is no need to liquefy it, the heat of the mixture will do this for you).  Pour into a storage container, cover the surface with plastic wrap, poke a few holes in it and refrigerate overnight to chill.

Slightly whisk the pastry cream to soften it.  Whip the cream to stiff peaks.  Fold into the pastry cream.  The mixture is ready to pipe.

Basic Choux Pastry
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons butter (60 grams)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sifted bread flour (100 grams)
3 whole eggs
1 + 1/2 tablespoons beaten egg (about half of a beaten egg)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw a 10 inch circle on one piece of parchment. Set aside.

Combine the water, butter and salt in a small, heavy saucepan.  Heat until the butter is melted and bring to a rapid boil. Add all the flour at once and stir rapidly until a large ball of dough forms that cleans the bottom and sides of the pan.With the pan still over heat, mash and flatten the panade with a spoon against the bottom of the pan.

Stir, bringing the bottom of the mixture to the top. Continue turning the panade and mashing it for 1 full minute. Remove the mixture from the heat and flatten it again in the bottom of the pan. Cool for 5 minutes. Place the panade in a food processor or the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle. Add the eggs and beaten egg. Process or mix until completely blended and a smooth paste forms.

At this point, gently wad up the parchment and soak in warm water for 5 to 7 minutes.  When finished, gently shake off some of the water, but not all of it.  Place on the baking sheet.  Fit a pastry bag with a #8 plain tip and fill the bag with the choux paste.  Pipe the choux paste on the inside of the circle. With the remaining paste pipe 20 walnut size puffs onto the second baking sheet after soaking it also. With a wet finger, lightly press down the pointy tops so they are round.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a deep golden brown. Cool completely.

Pate Brisee
3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour (85 grams)
1/3 cup sifted cake flour (35 grams)
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces and refrigerated (105 grams)
2 tablespoon beaten egg
1 teasoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons ice water

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a processor bowl fitted with the steel blade, combine the flours and salt; process briefly to mix.   Add the butter and place in a circle over the flours. Pulse until the butter is cut into large pieces.

Mix the egg, lemon juice and ice water. Pour over the flour/butter mixtureand pulse until it lumps together in its about the size of peas. Do not over-procress and especially don’t let it form a ball.  Pour it out onto a work surface lightly dusted lightly with flour and push together into a ball. Form into a thick disc.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling. Roll into a round about 11 inches. Trim the dough into a 10 1/2 inch round. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, dock with a fork and refigerate about 30 minutes or until it is firm. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden, firm and crisp. Cool completely.

Assembling the cake.
Place the pate brisee base on a 10 inch round.   Set aside. Fit a pastry bag with a #2 plain tip. Make a hole in the bottom of each puff with a toothpick or cake tester. Enlarge it so the pastry tip will fit inside the puff.  Fill the bag with pastry cream and pipe the cream into the puffs.  Clean the bottom off so no cream oozes out.   Set aside. Reserve the remaining pastry cream.

Make the caramel below.

Caramel
1/2 cup water
2 cups sugar

Place the water in a small saucepan. Add the sugar. Bring to a boil. Wash down the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in cold water. Boil the syrup hard until it just starts to color. At this point you must work quickly.  The syrup will continue to color as you work. With a spoon dipped in the hot caramel, drizzle caramel around the edges of  the pate.

Quickly place the choux paste ring on top of the base. Working quickly and carefully, dip the bottom of the small puffs in the caramel and attach them to the top of the choux ring.  Quickly and very, very carefully dip the bottom of a small puff in the caramel and place it on the ring. Continue until the ring is covered with puffs.

Finishing the Gateau St. Honore
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar

Place in a small saucepan.  Prepare as above for the Caramel.  However, this time take it to a dark amber. Cool for 30 to 40 second and Immediately spoon it over the puffs.

Fill the inside of the ring halfway up with pastry cream.Fit a pastry bag with a #8 open star tip and fill with the remaining pastry cream. Pipe large swirls over the pastry cream. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I wanted to use a tried and true recipe from an author I trust. Helen Fletcher’s recipes never disappoint me. Keep in mind that there are quite a few variations of this amazing gateau. For starters, the base can be either laminated dough or a pate brisee. The former is obviously a lot more involved, and the method changes also, because when using laminated dough the whole thing is baked together at the same time – the ring and usually additional inner circles (think of them as a maize) piped over the base. They add a bit more pastry component under the creamy topping. When using pate brisee, the ring is baked separately and later “glued” to the base with caramel.  For my first attempt, I opted for pate brisee.  I made it in a particular weekend in which I went into crazy baking mode. It was…  intense to say the least. So pate brisee it was.

The traditional cream is a Chibouste, patisserie cream lightened up with what is essentially a meringue. That was how the cake was designed back in 1847 in the bakery at Rue St Honore in Paris. I used whipped cream, following Helen’s recipe.  It is – if you can believe it – a bit richer. But a 10th blog anniversary does not come often.  You do need something to lighten up the patisserie cream, otherwise the dessert would feel quite heavy and dense. Plus, you cannot really pipe “cream pat” (yeap, we are besties).

It is now full disclosure time. If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you should know that rarely patisserie stuff goes in smooth-mode with Sally.  Take a look at the central choux puff. It is bald. I had saved the sexiest of them all for the center stage, and of course that was the one who did not get the final caramel glaze.  I howled in shock when I noticed. But having been through a few ordeals with the preparation of the caramel, I could not bring myself to make more to coat just that one. Plus, I thought that some spun sugar carefully placed all over it would look nice and hide its nakedness.  Spun sugar.  Do you see ANY spun sugar on my gateau? No you do not. (pause to sob). I tried. I tried four times. I followed youtube instructions, I used thermometers, I burned fingers. The only thing spun was my brain. The mess in the kitchen? Unreal. I managed to come up with some abstract caramel thingie to stab on decorate the naked puff, and pretended that was my intention from the beginning. So I now desperately need to conquer the spun. I lose battles. But I refuse to lose the war.

Decoration messed up or not, it did not matter. The picture below shows all that was left from the cake by the time a get-together for some Tesla-afficcionados was over. The cake was delicious, even if I say so myself. It is of course, very rich, but it feels light and airy, not sure how that is even possible, having witnessed the amount of eggs, butter, and sugar involved. Let’s call it a French Miracle.

And now for the giveaway… It is a wonderful book that I believe will have even patisserie-phobes grabbing a whisk and marching to the kitchen with a big confident smile. The title says it all: Patisserie Made Simple. And it delivers what it promises.

I love this book, and if you would like a copy, I will enter you in the giveaway if you leave a comment. No matter where you live, I will ship it to you if you win it. I will reveal the winner on June 30th.

I want to thank all  who  enjoy hanging out here in this virtual spot, and invite you to follow with me as I start my  second decade of food blogging. Ten years… oh, my!

ONE YEAR AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns 9!

TWO YEAR AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns eight!

THREE YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen Turns Seven!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Bewitching Kitchen Turns Six!

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns Five!

SIX YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns Four!

SEVEN YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen Turns Three! 

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  The Bewitching Kitchen turns Two!

NINE YEARS AGO:  Bewitching Birthday!

TEN YEARS AGO: Welcome to my blog!

 

MEMORIES of PASTEIS

Dad left us 15 years ago today. But he did not really leave. This is a post from 9 years ago, which I re-blog today.
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Bewitching Kitchen

When traveling to a country for the first time, it’s a good idea to pay special attention to their “street food.”   In Paris, for example, the tiny shops selling crepes (sometimes slathered with Nutella!) are a delight as one strolls along the avenues.   Many big cities are filled with  such delicacies, and in fact, one of my favorite cookbooks revolves around this topic.

On the streets of Brazil, you might stop to buy a “pastel,” and after sampling it, immediately return to the vendor for a couple more (plural = pasteis).    These fried savory pastries are sold at the entrance of street markets: every week on the same day a few blocks of a neighborhood street close to traffic, while farmers sell their produce from early morning until slightly past noon, with prices dropping as the hours pass.  You’ll smell the pasteis from a distance…

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